Success in today's business environment demands tools that facilitate effective knowledge management strategies, enable technical analysis and manipulation and simplify data exchange with partners, regulatory agencies and service companies. Effective tools solve real business problems. Successful tools are widely accessible, practical and affordable; increasingly, tools built on open standards pave the way to success.

Relational databases provide accessible, practical toolsets that can be used to manage corporate knowledge assets. Extensible Markup Language (XML) based products have received recognition as a powerful technology family that supports data exchange. Objectrelational hybrid databases based on spatial engines provide new insights into data analysis and quality control.

Technology is growing so fast that it has become difficult and prohibitively expensive for individual corporations to pursue each line of development independently. Collaborative efforts increase access to shared knowledge, distribute development costs and improve the quality of the final result by enabling standardized implementation of a particular technology.

The Exploration and Production Industry and the PPDM Association (an International not for profit standards body), are working collaboratively to develop standards for managing data and knowledge, spatially enabling data, standardizing data content and data exchange. Industry representatives establish priorities; they also provide technical and business expertise and funding. The Association provides a vendor-neutral environment for development, technical support and a methodology for designing, developing and publishing technical deliverables.

Data, Information And Knowledge

The twenty first century has been called "t h e Information Age". It's probably more accurate to call it "The Information Proliferation Age". Identifying and retaining material that is useful while eliminating data that is not presents a difficult and challenging task.

Data is often defined as elemental numeric or text values. Data may be stored in databases but all too often it is found in spreadsheets, unstructured electronic documents (such as text files) or as physical paper or film products. Identifying the product that contains the necessary data and preparing it for use can be time consuming and complicated.

Information, derived by processing or analyzing data, has long been undervalued. With few exceptions, corporate policies governing the retention and cataloguing of documents and other products generated by analysts simply don't exist. As a result, huge volumes of information have been lost over time.

Knowledge management is even more difficult, particularly because it is usually contained within another important corporate asset - employees. Technology that helps capture and structure knowledge assets is becoming common, at least for the part that is in digital form.

Capturing data, information and knowledge to support business processes is critical to the implementation of a successful knowledge management strategy, but the key to success is integration.

Each business object, such as a well, seismic line, contract, lease or production facility, needs to be associated with data, information and knowledge thatexists in databases, spreadsheets or in unstructured forms such as text files, word documents, photographs or physical samples. Each product must be managed using technology appropriate to its rendering and integrated with other related products and the business object that owns them.

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